Free Speech

There are some great perks to working for Google, a company pushing the boundaries of technology. But there’s also a downside to being at the bleeding edge of innovation: some countries might try to hold you back… with handcuffs. This week, police in Sao Paolo detained Brazilian Google chief Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, releasing him only after he promised to appear in court over YouTube videos that violate Brazilian election laws. A judge ordered that the videos in question, which say nasty things about a mayoral candidate, be taken down; Google ignored the order, likely hoping to export American free speech values abroad. Coelho is now in the Brazilian doghouse for the crime of “disobedience.”

The ploy worked. Google caved shortly after Coelho was released.

Google likes to argue that it’s not responsible for the content that its users post, but that argument doesn’t always fly abroad. This is not the first time a Google exec has wound up in trouble over a YouTube posting disliked by local authorities. Three execs became convicts in Italy thanks to a 2006 incident.

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Scalia v. Posner meets Mean Girls

* Someone was finally able to liken the Scalia v. Posner debate to a suitable situation: bitchy mean girls fighting each other in a middle school cafeteria. Seriously, only the inclusion of “like” throughout the entirety of the dialogue could’ve made it better. [lawprofblawg]

* Who pays your law professors’ salary? The obvious answer is law students, since professorial wallets are padded by tuition dollars. But what happens when IBR comes into play and loan debts are forgiven? Then the answer shifts to the taxpayers. [PrawfsBlawg]

* When Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers died, everyone was expecting that a lawsuit would be filed, but no one really thought that it would be one based on contract law. [New York Law and Legal Analysis Blog]

* What kind of case “really turn[s] on” everyone’s favorite First Amendment lawyer? Free speech cases that are riddled with challenges, of course, and questions about what does and doesn’t constitute porn. [Vegas Inc]

* You must be wondering where Above the Law fell on this ranking of the 15 Most Influential Law Blogs. We won’t give it away, but let’s just say that we now share something in common with Cooley. [Business Insider]

* “[S]ome dude with the munchies is getting a little legal education.” That’s what we thought when one of our top searches last week was “pictures of tacos” — and not even “duck tacos,” but regular ones. [Search Party]

Welcome to the Matrix, err, 7th grade…

After what feels like years of schools trying to regulate every aspect of children’s social media lives, it looks as though we may have finally hit a threshold. There may actually be an electronic bridge that schools cannot cross in their attempts to spy on educate underage students.

In a particularly egregious case, a Minnesota federal court handed down a ruling that protects off-campus speech and prohibits schools from forcing students to hand over private login information. The ruling will hopefully put the kibosh on a practice that never should have been acceptable to begin with…

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Stripping is supposed to be a lucrative profession — just look at all of the law students racing to the poles in the hopes of obtaining gainful employment. And in some states, bumping and grinding on stage while wearing six-inch lucite heels is even considered an artful expression worthy of protection under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, two lawsuits in New York and Texas threaten to sabotage the erotic striptease entertainment that we’ve all come to know and love.

New York’s highest court is currently considering whether an adult club is entitled to a sales tax exemption for lap dances under the theory that they qualify as “dramatic or musical arts performances.” Meanwhile, in the Lone Star state, a plaintiff in a federal class action suit claims that strippers are misclassified as independent contractors and being forced to live on tips alone.

Now that we’ve greased the pole, let’s get ready for a feature performance from both of these suits….

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* “Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, and Nietzsche (figuratively) walk into the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Hilarity ensues.” [FindLaw]

* The EPA gets benchslapped by the D.C. Circuit. [Instapundit]

* What can law firms learn from… the Cheesecake Factory? Besides how to make people fat; Biglaw’s already great at that. [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* If you enjoy gambling or legal hypotheticals, check this out. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Professor Eugene Volokh examines the tricky tension between constitutionally protected speech and laws against blackmail. [Volokh Conspiracy]

Professor Ann Althouse

* Professor Howard Wasserman grades Representative Todd Akin’s apology for his “legitimate rape” remarks — and gives the congressman partial credit for “owning” it. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Meanwhile, Professor Ann Althouse wonders: “Would the Democrats oust one of their own because he said one thing wrong?” [Althouse]

* Don’t forget: tonight is the nomination deadline for our Lawyerly Lairs contest for the best law firm offices in America. [Above the Law]

* Our commenting platform, Disqus, is having issues — which may explain why comments are mysteriously disappearing from the site. We apologize for the problem, which we are investigating. [Disqus]

Sydney Spies

Remember Sydney Spies, the teenage dream from Colorado who fought valiantly to get her provocative pictures featured in her high school yearbook, all in the name of free expression? Despite the threat of a lawsuit and national media coverage, all of Spies’s racy photos were rejected — but she was able to earn a spot in Americans’ hearts (and spankbanks) around the country.

The young Hollywood hopeful landed a small role in an upcoming SyFy movie, and her mother, Denise “Miki” Spies, was preparing to ship her daughter out to Los Angeles in the hopes of her making it big. Why not throw one last bash to celebrate Sydney’s single success in stardom? And that’s apparently where all the trouble began for this mother and daughter duo.

Little did Sydney and Miki know that their alleged exploits at the party would someday be able to serve as the basis for a Lifetime movie. The pair could face jail time for allegedly serving alcohol to minors — but at least they’re back in the headlines. (And this underage drinking drama could earn Sydney another line on her iMDB profile, so she’s probably patting herself on the back.)

Let’s discuss the charges that the Spies are currently facing, and all of the allegations that make them appear to be quite the hot messes….

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The threat of getting sued for libel or defamation has always hung over the heads of media professionals, now particularly so in the blogging era. The truth is always the clearest, simplest defense when faced with libel claims. But there are other, less direct avenues one can pursue as a defense, if need be.

A lawsuit recently dismissed against Gizmodo shows off one of the more commonly overlooked ways to bolster a defense against defamation. Let’s just say there’s often a reason bloggers like to include all those hyperlinks…

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Ed. note: This column will be about sports. And the law. And the intersection of those two things. And whatever the hell else Juggalo Law can come up with.

One summer during my childhood, I wanted nothing more than five copies of X-Force number one. I must have spent a solid two months harassing my mother and, when she finally had had enough, she relented, saying she’d buy the comic book for me if I hit a home run in my next little league game. She could have just said no. Because I didn’t stand a chance that summer. I was afraid of the ball and would flinch ever-so-gently as soon as the ball was pitched towards the plate. I’d try to catch up to its trajectory, but I was toast every single time. When the next game arrived, I had forgotten about my mom’s promise. And, in my last at-bat, I flinched, closed my eyes, and then swung at what I could only hope was the ball. Home run. My only home run. My sweetest accomplishment ever in baseball. My only accomplishment, really. As we walked into the house after the game, I loudly reminded my mom of her promise. She shrugged and continued inside. And that’s when my sister asked me one seemingly innocuous question. “What’s that on your pants?” Do I have to tell you, dear readers? Do I have to confess to you that there was urine on my otherwise clean and unfortunately bright white pants, a memento left in loving memory of my fear or my relief or my pride?

Fact is, I can’t really remember why I peed a little. LET’S TALK SPORTS!

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Where's Waldo? In court, apparently.

* Jason Cai, the software engineer convicted in the spring of murdering a young attorney, was sentenced today to life in prison without parole and ordered to pay more than $700,000 to the slain woman’s family. [Mercury News]

* An appeals court revived a discrimination lawsuit filed by a woman against her employer. And nobody cares. Wait, hold on a sec. Her employer is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What, what, whaaaat? [WSJ Law Blog]

* James Holmes, the man accused of last week’s movie theater shooting spree, has been formally charged with 142 criminal counts. They include 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. [Courthouse News Service]

* The Twinkie defense is so played out. Now, courtesy of an ex-Citigroup employee, introducing the brand spanking new “Where’s Waldo” defense. [Reuters]

* India’s largest and oldest television network has accused Nielsen of violating the FCPA by manipulating viewership data in favor of networks that offer bribes. Say it ain’t so! [Hollywood Reporter]

* Chick-fil-A, free speech, zoning laws, and homophobia — all thrown together onto a failure pile in a sadness bowl. Noted First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, counsel to ATL, takes to CNN to educate the masses. [CNN]

Why do so many people who might want to harm someone else love to post about it online ahead of time? Not only is it a dumb strategic move — it alerts others to your allegedly nefarious plans, so a potential victim can escape the situation — it also makes it infinitely easier for law enforcement to, like, arrest and prosecute you.

We’ve heard this in various forms before, in regards to a possible mall shooting and laptop thief. But you would think a former prosecutor would know better than to allegedly threaten, via Facebook, to give his boss a whuppin’…

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